Speed Rack Midwest brought together industry professionals, cocktail enthusiasts, and hundreds of supporters for season six of Miss Speed Rack Midwest, the regional division of the now-international women’s bartending competition.
Congratulations to Mony Bunni, Lustau Sherry, Chicago brand ambassador and bartender at Boleo and The Kimpton Gray Hotel, on her win. “I can’t believe what just happened,” Bunni said. “I guess third time’s a charm.”
Bunni, who’s been bartending for four years and entered the Speed Rack competition for the first time in 2014, says she found amazing mentors in Mike Ryan and John Stanton during her time at Sable, another Kimpton restaurant in Chicago.
“When I started bartending, I thought I knew some stuff about alcohol. And then I started at Sable and Mike [Ryan] was like, ‘take everything you know and throw it out the window.’ He and the staff there taught me everything I know.”
– Mony Bunni
That knowledge proved enough to push her through what Speed Rack’s founders, Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero, have said to be the competition’s toughest year yet. “Finals were hard,” Bunni admitted. “It was dealer’s choice [where a bartender builds a custom cocktail] and it was a lot of pressure.”
Speed Rack has three bartenders go head to head in timed heats, each tender making four drinks, pulled from 50 accepted industry-standard classic recipes, as ordered by the competition’s four judges. Bartenders are judged on time and accuracy.
In Chicago’s competition there were 22 preliminary rounds that whittled the list of contestants down to eight finalists. Seven rounds (quarter finals, semifinals, and finals) pit Bunni against Katie Astrauskas, of MONEYGUN in Chicago, to fight for the title.
Bunni won the final round in 2 minutes and 7 seconds, calling time 1 minute and 18 seconds ahead of Astraukas.
“I kind of knew what to expect going in,” Bunni admitted, “but I did a lot of training.”
Bunni and Kelsey Lappa, another season six contender and Kimpton Gray Hotel bartender, trained together, taking three to four hours once a week to train at work before their shifts.
Bunni’s advice to Miss Speed Rack hopefuls?
“Practice but don’t over practice,” she says. “Treat your bar shift as if they’re Speed Rack. Be clean, be precise, be really focused. Don’t get in your head too much and stay as calm as you can. Drown everyone else out and pretend it’s your bar.”
Bunni heads to New York City in mid-2017 to fight for the Miss Speed Rack USA title.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m gonna bring it home. I love my city. We deserve it,” she said.
The next stop on the Speed Rack tour is Speed Rack New York Region in New York City on December 11th, 2016.